Language attitudes ofTurkish students towards theEnglish language and its usein Turkish contextSue Anne Andrew
The most widely taught foreign language at allstages of education system Many start learning English in secondary school,some as early as primary or pre-school The problem? The desired level of proficiency isnot attained
Definition:“The attitude which speakers of different languages orlanguage varieties have towards each other’slanguages or to their own language. Expressions ofpositive or negative feelings towards a language mayreflect impressions of linguistic difficulty or simplicity,ease or difficulty of learning, degree of importance,elegance, social status, etc. Attitudes towards alanguage may also show what people feel about thespeakers of that language”(Longman Dictionary of Applied Linguistics, 1992:199)
Gardner (1985)-motivation: combination of effortsplus desire to achieve the goal of learning thelanguage plus favourable attitudes toward learningthe language Wenden (1991)-3 components of attitudes:-cognitive (beliefs or perceptions about thelanguage) –evaluative ( the language may generate likeor dislike)-behavioural (prompt learners to adopt particularlearning behaviours)
To investigate :1. the interlaced relationship among languageattitudes2. the starting age of language learning, and theplace where the individual started to learnlanguage within the context of EFL students inTurkey.
Questionnaire: 1stpart-personal info: gender, the age when theystarted to learn English, the place where theystarted to learn English. 2ndpart-their attitudes towards the Englishlanguage (5-point Likert Scale) 3rdpart-their attitudes towards the use of English inTurkish context(was presented to students in Turkish)Data was analysed using SPSS.
190 eighth grade students of a private primaryschool in Adana (considered as one of the mostadvantaged groups learning English in a fullyequipped environment) English language (up to 10 hours/week)Participants Number/percentageFemale 94 (49.5%)Male 96 (50.5%)Started learning from 0-6 years old 42.1%Started learning from 7 and above 57.9%Learn English at secondary school 83.15%Learn English at pre-school 16.84%
The degree of attitudes of the Turkish studentstowards English is generally mildly positive. Theyfind English musical, rich and beautifulsuccessively. However, they do not find English as a languageof culture and it is not so interesting to them. They have strongly positive attitudes towards theimportance of English.
Between genderFemale More positive attitudes, find English beautiful and musical, feelsignificantly more comfortable about Turkish people speakingEnglish than male groupMale Less positive attitudes,find English important, rich and interesting (similar to femalestudents)Between age of exposure to English0-6 years old Have more positive attitudes, find English as more beautiful,interesting, musical, important and rich,Think of English as a language of culture, do not feel uneasyand lack of confidence while speaking English7 and above Less positive attitudes
Students do not support English as a language ofinstruction in schools However, they wish to take English as an elective course. They do not feel that using English has detrimental effecton their identity as Turkish people. Both groups do not want to have a course book in English low level of attitude towards the educational value ofEnglish. In contrast, the intrinsic value of English based culture isvery high strong desire to learn the culture but not thelanguage
Previous expectation: they have stronglypositive attitudes towards English. However, they only have mildly positiveattitudes. They welcome English as the frequently usedforeign language in Turkey, evaluate the socialand instrumental value of English, prefer readingand speaking in English, and take English evenif it not compulsory at school. They recognize the importance of English as aninstrument to get a better job, higher status insociety, etc.
However, they are not that willing to take activesteps at the expected level in order to learnEnglish Also, they are less tolerant to the use of Englishamong Turkish. But, they are unbigoted against English basedculture It might be claimed that starting to learn Englishat an earlier age at pre-school environment has asignificant effect on language learning in foreigncontext
The findings support the general contentionpartially that positive language attitudes let learnerhave positive orientation towards learning English Interestingly, the recognition of the importance ofEnglish as a foreign language in Turkish societymay not lead students to have active steps inlearning process. The reason? they do not have positive attitudestowards English language (outcome of Turkeyedu. System) but the English based culture ( aresult of social tendencies affected byglobalisation).
Another reason? The students do not feel theneed of English language in daily life yet. Theydelay learning English until adulthood(professional needs) Awareness is not enough strategy-basedlearning and teaching might be a solution bcozthese students have positive attitudes towards theculture and high level of recognition on theimportance of the language